When it comes to how to write a letter, believing that writing a letter is a simple thing is far from reality. If we keep in mind that it has to be clear, neat, brief, concrete, methodical, correct, courteous, considered, precise and, above all, that it achieves the purpose that we propose, we will see that the thing is not so easy
There is no doubt that a letter that meets the requirements described can be classified among the most difficult literary genres.
Writing a Letter
The letter is defined as a written conversation and, first of all, we must know how to adapt to our interlocutor. Socrates, an exceptional commentator, spoke as the shoemaker “in shoemaker” and as the philosopher “in philosopher.”
If we do not follow this pattern, it will be very difficult to achieve the proposed purpose because we will not be intelligible or easy to understand.
Knowing how to write a letter is a skill that can be developed with a little practice. It starts with the introduction, continues with the body of the message and the conclusion. The closure is dedicated to the signature. But is this enough to close the envelope and send a letter capable of being read?
It depends on the recipient. There are those who have to write a letter for the third grade exam, those who want to write a letter to a judge or write to the Pope. Strictly by hand.
Much changes between formal and informal letters, but there are basic rules. Even when writing a letter to the computer, perhaps on Word, you must have a model to follow.
Difference between an informal and formal letter
Before tackling the basic topic, it is right to clarify the difference between formal and informal.
The formal letter is used if there is no confidence between the writer and the reader, especially when you want to communicate with a public administration.
This document is used to write to a letter to a judge, university, public body or company. Maybe to a professor. These rules are used for commercial and official communications. But when I write to an address with which I already have relationships I use a semi-formal letter.
When it comes to how to write a letter to people you have relationships with, you can use an informal format to convey your message.
How to set up a perfect letter
Clarity is the basis for setting up a letter. You must proceed in order to favor the synthesis and structure of the text. Without forgetting readability.
You have to write to be read, without confusing the formal letter with a bureaucrat exercise. This is even more important if you write an informal letter to a friend. For a fluid and direct writing, start from the basic questions:
Who should I write to?
What is the purpose?
What should they answer me?
Do I just have to inform?
The style of the letter must not create distance between the writer and the reader. You have to achieve the goal: make yourself understood through writing and achieve the result.
What is the structure of a good letter?
This is the first question how much you wonder how to write a formal, commercial or registered letter: what are the points to be respected? Here is the structure:
Place where you write.
Date of drafting.
Recipient of the text.
Object of the communication.
Opening the message.
Procedure and information.
Closing and conclusions.
Wording-signature of the author.
Post scriptum (PS).
Some elements of the letter are specific to formal and administrative communication, such as references to previous communications. Also there are optional and other mandatory items.
These are the elements of structure. But how do you organize it?
When it comes to a formal letter, there is a basic structure to be respected. It is not difficult to set up a letter for a commercial communication, you just need to enter the points listed respecting an alternation established by the facsimile.
Where sender and recipient are placed
Sender and recipient are written on the envelope, but on a formal letter they are also inserted on the sheet containing the message. Where does the sender write?
It is located at the top left: if it is a letterhead you have all the information, otherwise you must enter your name and surname. Or company name with logo and address.
The recipient of the letter is at the bottom, aligned on the right, below the place and date. Here you must add the name or company name of who receives your communication.
Writing a Letter to Multiple Recipients
One of the most used formulas when writing a letter to multiple recipients. The wording “for information” indicates the need to send a message that is addressed to several people, one or more of whom are not directly involved but interested in communication. Here’s how to write a letter to multiple recipients.
This is the formula for adding an address only “for information”. If you want to write a formal letter to multiple recipients, some of whom are only interested in communication, this is the solution to use.
Place and date of writing in the documents
Between sender aligned on the left (first element of the letter) and recipient on the right you must enter the place and date of writing. How to define these elements?
To create a letter put first the place, then a comma and finally the date which can be written in different ways. The dd / mm / yyyy solution may be suitable.
In some cases you can also use the name of the place and date in full (Naples, 25 March 2018) and perhaps precede everything from there, an ancient form that has fallen into disuse.
Object and references of the communication
In a formal letter, and especially in commercial ones, it can be useful to insert the object. Just as in the email, the structure of a formal letter calls into question simplicity and efficiency. Adding an object can help.
Putting an immediate summary of the topic addressed in the body of the letter supports the reader, contextualises. Better announce the content, make it clear what you want.
References can also be inserted before the object in the letter. That is, the data that allow you to find a previous postal communication. The abbreviations:
Ns / ref.
Vs / ref.
In this way reading a formal letter, perhaps commercial, becomes simple and immediate. Always put the reader, the recipient at the center.
How to Start a Letter: Opening formula
How do you start a letter? In an informal text you can start with a hello or Dear. But in an informal letter?
It’s the same? No, there are standard formulas that allow the sender to break the ice, to present himself to the attention of the recipient in a polite and reasonable way. The right attack of a letter? Here are some solutions to get started:
In response to the previous letter.
As per agreements.
As anticipated by phone.
We hereby inform you that.
In reference to your / your request.
All this without forgetting the typical attack of a formal letter, i.e. the use of excellent or kind formulas (abbreviated as egr, gent.le, gent.mo or gent.ma).
These combinations precede the recipient’s name. The good layout requires the first word in capital letters and the comma after the name of the reader.
How to write in the body of the letter
Here is the content of the message. How do you write an effective letter? You have to aim for simplicity and good communication. Here too there are differences between formal and informal text. In the first case, for example, we use the:
you by organization or company.
her for natural persons.
The you is also intended for letters addressed to several people. Pronouns and pronominal particles, even at the end of words, are written in capital letters (thanking you).
There is no room for bureaucratese and acronyms, you have to make yourself understood and not increase the distances between the writer and the reader. Especially if you have to write an informal letter.
What to avoid in the body of the letter?
When it comes to how to write a letter that will get your point across, do not use specialist jargon – unless required and understood – and too long periods, use simple words and short sentences, re-read the text to correct spelling and typing errors.
Improve text and readability
Remember to align the flag text and insert a single line space to improve spaces. Divide the text into short paragraphs and sentences without too many words, parentheses, adjectives, adverbs and redundancies. Help the reader read well.
Also use a readable font if you write on the computer. A Time New Roman for institutional communications may be fine. Otherwise choose Arial or Verdana.
How to End a Letter: closures
You wrote your commercial communication, you set up an opening and a development. Now you have to close the text so you have to choose a formula capable of greeting the recipients in the right way. But how do you close a letter?
Best regards or cordiality.
Looking forward to your feedback we send you our best regards.
Looking forward to your kind reply, I offer my best regards.
I welcome this opportunity to offer c.s.
Thank you for your attention, best regards.
Looking forward to your reply, I offer you my warmest regards.
Thanking you in advance for your availability, I offer my best regards.
Closing a formal letter is a practice and one of the common rules is to abbreviate cordial greetings with C.S. For friendly, informal communication, you can close in different ways. If there is more confidence, you can use different formulas:
I’m waiting for news.
See you soon.
If the relationships are not so intimate, you can close an informal letter with Sincerely, with affection. Or with Auguri if you are referring to an occasion.
Author’s signature, note and post scriptum
The author’s signature in a formal letter is located at the bottom right, after the conclusions. It is characterized by name and surname, but also by references:
Office of departure.
After this you can enter the autographed signature that gives official value to the letter. This element also remains in informal documents, less related to the form.
Signature by proxy
If the signature is put in the place of other people, the name of these subjects can be indicated with a code: by proxy. Or p.p. alternatively only p. (for).
Post scriptum (Postscript or PS)
Before the post scriptum (after writing from Latin) was essential because it allowed you to add text. With handwriting it was important to have this solution, but with word processing the postscript takes second place.
In any case, the post scriptum (abbreviated PS) can be taken into consideration to add a section not strictly connected with the theme.
Another final element that can help to clarify, to indicate particular aspects that must be highlighted to give more information to the reader. The good note (abbreviated to NB) is always put after the author’s signature.
Attachments to the letter and initials of the author
At the bottom left there are attachments and initials of the author and typist. The attachments are documents already mentioned within the text that give the reader the opportunity to deepen a passage. The initials are located under the latter.
These elements follow a rule: initials in capital letters of the author, hyphen, initials in lower case of the typist. This way you follow the official rule.
As you can see, deciding how to write a letter can be a little more involved than one may think. By following a few rules however, writing the perfect letter can be done easily for any occasion.